Enjoying the last heat in Austin

2/22/22

Well, it got up to 87 today, which was amazing. Tomorrow it will be in the 30s, and highs 50 or below for the next few days. Darn… makes it much harder to explore.

But today was great! My Warmshowers host Karen took me on a bike ride through some neighborhood parks, and then the Texas state capitol building. It is the largest state capitol in the US, and as you can see, the design was modeled after the US Capitol.

First we went to Pease Park, where a big orb had just been constructed during the COVID era. If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see it has a netted, trampoline-like structure inside, where kids were joyfully bouncing around. Right across the path from the orb was a large chess set for park users to enjoy.

From the park, we proceeded to the capitol. I had hoped to meet my former-Portland friend Rusty there; she had planned to attend a global meditation and dance event there, but unfortunately was feeling under the weather and unable to make it. But Karen and I went inside and took in the glorious rotunda. Absolutely beautiful architecture. I was very surprised to see two people sitting directly under the rotunda, meditating together as a part of the global event, which a videographer told us would be livestreamed within the hour. I could not imagine something like that happening inside Oregon’s capitol building… and this is Texas!

It did pleasantly remind of my dream, back in 2013, to offer free empathy on the steps of the US Capitol, as part of my East Coast Empathy Tour.

After we left the capitol, Karen took me on a brief bike tour through the University of Texas campus just north of there—including a whimsical canoe sculpture—and then led me along car-free bike paths down across the river to south Austin, where she dropped me off to meet my friend Jason for lunch at a vegan food truck, ATX Food Co. I enjoyed some kabocha squash tacos while we talked for a few hours about a variety of topics including fairy godfunding; he was intrigued by the concept, and enjoyed brainstorming some ideas about it.

After we parted ways, I went back to the riverfront path and then decided to try another vegan food cart on the south side of town, Conscious Cravings. I sampled a huge, and very reasonably priced, eggless tofu wrap.

Then I was craving something sweet, so I decided to hit up Austin’s outpost of Portland’s homegrown quirky doughnut palace, Voodoo Doughnut. I availed myself of my favorite offering, the Portland crème, which was probably half again as large as its Portland counterpart. (I was reminded of the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas.”) I was also startled—and not a little aghast—at the sign on the door about handguns. It’s a different world down here. I saw a similar sign just a few minutes later, when I stopped at a credit union’s ATM for cash. Portland credit union staffers—to my memory, at least—do not find it necessary to post signs prohibiting open-carry guns in their branches.

Tomorrow I plan to stay inside most of the day, catching up on reading and administrative tasks. I do have a luxurious 90-minute massage scheduled in the afternoon, however, as well as a get-together with some friends of a Portland friend.

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